Some Thoughts on Grief (on Paul’s 52nd Birthday)

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Today February 25th, is my brother Paul’s 52nd birthday. While he did not live to see and celebrate it, he has people who are still here remembering him. His laughter, his sense of irony, his insecurity, his wit, his breadth of knowledge, his creativity, his emotional turmoil, his love, his righteousness and doubt all are imprinted on this moment. Contemporary quantum physics points consistently toward the truth that each individual conciousness has an impact on the world. If energetic matter can neither be created or destroyed, then this impact goes on forever. Even as I know this, I also know that when a beloved being leaves their physical form, a great deep grief rises up and takes hold in the world.

One of my life’s intentions is to be light, loving joy in the world. Much of the time this is easy for me as I am buoyed by the spirit that brought me here and always guides me. My life is simple with manageable stress and I have gifts to share and a cadre of friends to share them with. Then when an event outside my well-cultivated illusion of control happens, I resist , I wail and holler, saying to myself, “I don’t want to feel this way, I don’t want to feel this way, I don’t want to feel this way.” This is where I was for periods during the last year and a half as I allowed the reality of Paul’s death to bring waves of sadness, anger and anxiety to the forefront of my lived experience.

I know that resistance is a root cause of disease, so a less familiar path needed to be taken. Not numbing myself till it goes away, not holding it in, not crying in the bathroom and then putting on a good face in front of others- instead I did things that felt more vulnerable to me. I asked for help, shared my feelings in the moment and kept an eye out for any sense of victimhood and blaming of myself or others. I used all the tools in my pack – EFT, meditation, deep breathing, supportive nutrition and hydration, exercise – to stay grounded and present.

I am sad that Paul did not let me know what was truly going on in his life. Angry that he left out a huge piece of the puzzle of what happened between himself and his wife, his children and his wife’s family, and our family. Why did he have to work so hard to save face, put on a front, be so unaware of what he was doing and how it was impacting his life? I study pictures from his childhood looking for signs of angst, unhappiness, fear. He just looks happy, loving and excited by life.

He was the youngest child. As the oldest, it is hard to imagine what it is like to have, not only parents, but multiple older siblings telling you what is right and what is wrong from all our unique perspectives. All I can do is accept what has happened and honor him, his life, and his choices. From a place of unconditional love, there is no shame about the path he chose. He is a role model of surrender. He let himself go, he got himself out of a difficult situation the best way he knew how. There was a fearlessness in his giving over to his path. When I think of him with love and respect, I can only say, “well done, my brother!” I see you in your next life succeeding with love and assurance. I see you bobbing over the crest of a wave, laughing with joy.  The lessons you taught while you were here have not yet been fully realized. I feel heartened to know that the real gift of your life is yet to be received.

So while I have entertained grief in my home for a time I am clear that this is just a visit. And, as in past visits, it will come to a natural end. My home is filled with joy, love, and creative energy. While anxiety, fear, sadness and grief do build up in the nooks and crannies at times, a good cry, a loving talk, a breathing meditation, a smoke or tea of kind herbs, EFT, a belly laugh can cleanse those energies from my home. I feel a tremendous responsibility to give loving attention to this work – the work of cultivating creative joy in the world.

I do keep a picture of grief around, just as a friendly reminder of a pain that comes and goes and comes again, but for now- its time in my presence is up!

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